Elias Says: June 1, 2017

Guentzel picks up where he left off in Game 1

Rookie Jake Guentzel scored two goals, including the game-winner, in the Penguins’ 4–1 victory over the Predators in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final, after scoring the winning goal in Game 1. This is only the fifth time since the NHL took exclusive control of the Stanley Cup in 1927 that the same player scored the winning goal in each of the first two games of a Stanley Cup Final series. The other players to do that were Don Grosso (1942 Red Wings), Jean Beliveau (1960 Canadiens), Bob Nevin (1963 Maple Leafs) and Mario Lemieux (1992 Penguins).

This is the third consecutive year in which a rookie scored a goal in each of the first two games of the NHL’s championship series. Teuvo Teravainen did that for the Blackhawks in 2015 and Conor Sheary followed suit for the Penguins last year. Over the previous 57 years (1957–2014), only two rookies scored goals in consecutive games to begin a Stanley Cup Final series: Dino Ciccarelli, who tallied for the Minnesota North Stars against the Islanders in each of the first three games of the 1981 Final, and Justin Abdelkader, who scored in each of the first two games for the Red Wings in 2009.

Penguins take 2–0 lead with big assist from Kunitz

Chris Kunitz assisted on two goals in the Penguins’ 4–1 win over Nashville in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final, just as he did in Pittsburgh’s 5–3 victory in Game 1. Kunitz is only the fourth player since the NHL took control of the Stanley Cup in 1927 to register at least two assists in each of the first two games of a Final series. The others are Gordie Howe, who did so twice (for the Red Wings in 1955 and 1961), Bert Olmstead (1956 Canadiens) and Lars Molin (1982 Canucks).

Murray’s 20th playoff win

Matt Murray made 37 saves in his 4–1 victory in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final. It was the 20th playoff win in 28 postseason games for Murray in his two years in the NHL (15 wins in 21 games for Pittsburgh in the 2016 playoffs, five wins in seven games this year). Only two other goaltenders in NHL history needed no more than 28 games to notch their 20th career playoff win and both did so playing for the Canadiens: Hall of Famers Bill Durnan (26 games) and Patrick Roy (27 games).

May 2017: second-most home runs in calendar month in MLB history

There were 1060 home runs hit in May 2017, the second-most in any calendar month in major-league history. The all-time record was set in May 2000, when 1069 home runs were hit in major-league games.

Padres shock Cubs with three-game sweep

The Padres had a major league-high 33 losses entering play on Monday, at which point they began a three-game set with the Cubs. San Diego won all three games against Chicago, sealing the sweep with a 2–1 victory on Wednesday.

It was the first time in 44 years that this late in a season––in terms of games played––the team with the most losses in the majors proceeded to sweep a series of at least three games from the defending World Series champion. That had last been done in 1973, when the Rangers took three games from the Athletics, after Texas began the series with an MLB-high 91 losses.

Opponents are 1-for-53 against Padres bullpen over last five games

Brad Hand and Brandon Maurer each threw one scoreless and hitless inning out of the bullpen to secure the Padres’ 2–1 win against the Cubs. Over San Diego’s last five games its relievers have held opponents to one hit in 53 at-bats (.019) over 17⅔ scoreless innings. It’s the first time in almost a year that a team had a five-game span in which its relief corps allowed no more than one hit. Oakland’s relievers limited opponents to one hit in 38 at-bats over five games in June 2016.

Astros keep rolling

The Astros routed the Twins on Wednesday, 17–6, completing a three-game sweep in which they scored 40 runs (16, 7 and 17). That is a franchise record for runs scored in a regular-season series of any length. Houston’s previous highest run total in a single series was 39–– in a four-game set at San Francisco in 1995 and a four-game matchup with the Pirates in 2000.

The Astros’ victory improved their record this season to 38–16, which is the most games over .500 for any major league team through the end of May since 2001, when the Mariners were 40–12 to that point.

Yankees lose 11th straight series in Baltimore

The Orioles took the rubber game of their three-game set with the Yankees at Camden Yards, winning 10–4 on Wednesday night. The Yankees have lost their last 11 series in Baltimore. It is their second-longest streak of consecutive road series losses ever against a particular opponent. They lost 12 series in a row in Oakland from 1985 to 1991. Joe Girardi’s club last won a series at Baltimore in September 2013, when it took three of four games.

This time Mets can’t overcome deGrom’s early gopher balls

Eric Thames homered off Jacob deGrom in the first inning and Keon Broxton took the Mets’ ace deep in the second inning and the Brewers cruised from there to a 7–1 win at Citi Field. The only other game in deGrom’s career in which he allowed a home run in both the first and second innings came in August 2015 at Citizens Bank Park, when he threw gopher balls in each of the first three innings––to Ryan Howard, Cameron Rupp and Domonic Brown––and the Mets rallied from five runs down to rout the Phillies, 16–7.

Three NL West teams at least 10 games above .500

The Diamondbacks’ victory on Wednesday improved their record to 33-22 and assured that they, along with the Dodgers and Rockies, would each finish the night at least 10 games above .500. It is only the third time since divisional play began in 1969 that three teams from the same division each stood at least ten games above .500 entering June. That also happened in the AL East in 1986 (Red Sox, Yankees and Orioles) and NL Central in 2013 (Cardinals, Reds and Pirates).

Owings comes through with two men on base

Chris Owings’ RBI-single with men on first and second brought home the winning the run in the 14th inning of the Diamondbacks–Pirates marathon. Owings is batting .500 this season (10 for 20) in at-bats with at least two runners on base.

Three home runs, all hit by shortstops

Chad Pinder homered twice and drove in all three Athletics runs to offset a solo shot by Francisco Lindor in Oakland’s 3–1 triumph over the Indians. It’s the first time in 16 years that two teams combined to hit at least three home runs in a game with all of them hit by shortstops. That had last happened in a May 2001 contest between the Rangers and Tigers, when Alex Rodriguez went deep twice for Texas and Deivi Cruz homered for Detroit.

Fowler a power threat at home

Dexter Fowler’s eighth-inning solo homer gave the Cardinals a 2–1 win over the Dodgers. It was Fowler’s seventh home run this season and all of them have been hit at Busch Stadium. He has the most home runs by any player this season who has connected for all of them in his home park.

Blue Jays take over after game is tied through six innings

The Blue Jays and Reds were tied 3–3 at Rogers Centre through six innings and the odds favored the home team. Toronto had to that point a major league-high six wins this season in games that were deadlocked entering the seventh inning. Form held when Devon Travis cracked a two-run homer in the seventh inning and the Reds’ ninth-inning rally fell short, resulting in a 5–4 victory for the Blue Jays.

Norris homers in extra innings

Derek Norris’s two-run homer in the 10th inning provided the margin of victory in the Rays’ 7–5 win over the Rangers. Over the last four seasons Norris is 10-for-26 (.385) in extra innings, compared to his .230 average in all other at-bats.

Sandoval comes off the DL and produces game-winning RBI

Pablo Sandoval’s run-scoring single in the sixth inning broke a 1–1 tie and the Red Sox went on to defeat the White Sox, 4–1. That ties the second-latest inning in which Sandoval produced a game-winning run for the Red Sox. His only later game-winning RBI for Boston came on a home run in the 11th inning at Oakland in May 2015.

Royals score three runs in first inning

The Royals scored three first-inning runs against the Tigers on Wednesday night. Kansas City had been the only major-league team that did not score at least three runs in the first inning in any game this season.

Bour hits two more homers

Justin Bour, who connected for two home runs in the Marlins’ win on Wednesday, has hit 11 round trippers in his last 19 games. The only player in franchise history to hit more home runs than Bour in a span of fewer than 20 games is Giancarlo Stanton, who went deep 12 times in 19 games in the spring of 2015.